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Nichols gets things going

Chad Abraham

In court Monday, it didn’t take long to realize a new prosecutor – albeit one with a familiar face – was in charge of Pitkin County’s felony caseload.In her first day back on the job after the recall of Colleen Truden, Gail Nichols and defense attorneys agreed on two guilty pleas, and she remanded two other cases to county court. There were also plenty of continuances, especially in the Aspen drug-raid cases, which Nichols said she has yet to review.Defense attorney Arnie Mordkin noticed the activity.”It’s amazing what a change in regime can do,” he said in court.Mordkin then entered a guilty plea for a man who passed bad checks at several Aspen businesses.Nichols was the second of seven prosecutors to resign after Truden took office at the beginning of 2005. She was escorted out ahead of her last day, one of the first events that led to Truden being the state’s first district attorney to be recalled from office. Martin Beeson was elected district attorney in the same election; he took over the office on Friday.After Monday’s long docket, in which she handled about 50 cases, Nichols admitted she was nervous about taking over her old job.”It was a lot to prepare for,” she said. “I certainly didn’t know what was going to happen in each [case].”The main goal was to dispose of some cases on the bloated docket.”And we did dispose of quite a few,” Nichols said.In one such case, Mariana Berg, 25, originally had been charged with felony second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. She allegedly bit a jailer on the hand when he tried to take away her cell phone.Berg, an Aspen waitress, sat by herself Monday as Nichols said she would dismiss the assault charge and pursue the disorderly conduct count and a charge of criminal mischief. Both are misdemeanors and will be handled in county court.


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